Conscious Cosmetics

I tried going vegetarian several times and only once did I make it past a few weeks. After about 7-8 months of not eating meat, I ate a turkey sandwich without blinking an eye or skipping a beat. I was halfway through it when I realized that yes, turkey is meat, and yes, I failed.

It wasn’t the end of the world, it was just the end of a poorly attempted life-change. Although I could have just counted that incident as a mistake and continued to follow a vegetarian diet, I knew that it would prove to be more difficult than simply just ordering salad at dinner. I have been eating meat for almost 20 years, so it would probably take more than 20-something weeks to stick with a non-animal diet.

I gave up. However, I have begun to switch my beauty and bath products to ones that are cruelty-free. I already know some of my favorite makeup products just can’t be duplicated by cruelty-free (or any other) brands, but for the most part the animal-friendy selection of beauty products is accessible and more than acceptable when it comes to quality.

Here are some brands that you have probably seen a million times, yet never knew were consciously made. Please note brands marked with a * are Leaping Bunny certified, which certifies this brand or company lives up to the Leaping Bunny (or gold standard) in cruelty-free production.

Alba Botanica * – Shampoos, Conditioners and Skincare are their popular items. I see AB’s products at CVS and Target all the time.

YES TO – YES TO is an AMAZING company and makes the best makeup removing/facial wipes. Once again, this brand is also found at local drugstores and the like.

Queen Helene * – That’s right, the infamous Mint Julep Masque is cruelty-free along with all of Queen Helene’s products. I am currently using this scrub and love it!

Urban Decay * (owned by L’Oreal, who is NOT cruelty-free) – Besides being cruelty-free, UD offers a variety of vegan makeup while still being one of the best quality brands on the market. Naked Palettes. Need I say more?

Kiss My Face * – Another brand you’ve seen before but may have looked over on the shelf. I currently use their Active Life deodorant and while antiperspirant gives slightly better results, this product is a great alternative for those who want a natural deodorant that actually works.

NYX (owned by L’Oreal, who is NOT cruelty-free) –  Now at CVS and Ulta, NYX is a brand that is making its way into the cosmetic bags of women everywhere. Their Mega Shine lip glosses are my favorite of all time. My color is 155 – Perfect, named after me the pouty pink shade that looks great on everyone.

Tarte – Tarte is another higher-end cosmetic brand (like UD) that offers Vegan products that just blow others out of the water. Try the Amazonian-Clay foundation (my personal favorite) and shop their vegan line here.

LUSH – LUSH cosmetics is like Mary Poppin’s handbag. You go in looking for one thing, and come out with 400. It’s that addicting and that amazing. Everything I have bought from here blows my mind because the product works while being 100% natural…how they make bubble bars and bath bombs from the Earth is nothing less than astonishing. Check out the best cleansing scrub ever that I use here and the best moisturizer I use for  my thirsty skin here.

Love & Toast – The packaging on Love & Toast’s products is artsy and beautiful, which really targets the romantic bohemian side in all of us. I gave my friend a few travel size shower items and she loved them! Also check out their rollerball perfumes; they are some of the best scents my nose hairs have tingled to. Love & Toast is available at Ulta and Whole Foods.

Keep in mind there are a TON more out there, but these are some of my personal preferences that I hope you try and love. If you want to research whether other companies or brands are cruelty-free check out the links below. Stay informed and stay beautiful!

PETA’s cosmetic list – may be outdated

Logical Harmony list

Current Obsession: The Double-Slit Maxi

I admit when I was in college I rarely wore a skirt that fell past my knees. Peep-toe pumps and a tight black skirt were the staple “go-to going out outfit” that screamed “I’m cookie-cutter but really cute so buy me a drink? Actually no, I shouldn’t even have to ask, forget it.” Now, I find myself drawn more and more to the Festival Chic trend that has been running rampant across women between the ages of 17 and 28 and totally feeling the flowy skirts and clean-cut bohemian vibe. With this comes the loose and elegant, although sometimes super sexy maxi skirt. Long and whimsical, or a-symmetrical with a bit of sex appeal, it still provides a relaxed look to any outfit. While you can find a maxi skirt anywhere now, there is a daring take on this simple piece that I am on the cusp of embracing: the double-slit maxi. Here are some of my favorites that I think can be tastefully styled without appearing too inappropriate

This floral printed Alejandro skirt from Stone Cold Fox is classy yet edgy with the zipper detail. Lauren Paul wears it below at Coachella, and proves that you don’t need to wear a denim thong (a.k.a short shorts) to look gorgeous at a music festival.

This simple cotton variation from Charlotte Russe comes in plus sizes as well as a variety of patterns and colors. Smart shopping at its finest.

Ok, this Tamara Mellon skirt is near $700, but if you can splurge and love to mix patterns (another trend we’ve seen this past year or so) then maybe give it a shot. It is absolutely stunning. A cheaper “version” is below, which is from Free People.


And last by not least, this floral-printed maxi from Urban Outfitters is a safe buy, as it is casual and fun for summer, but a little more modest with the slit depth. I really love how it can look almost formal with a structured crop top, but then beachy if you throw on a loose tank.

Peckish Photo Post

I couldn’t resist capturing the gorgeous colors from the bruschetta I had for dinner tonight. One of the simplest appetizers, yet one of the best-tasting.


There are quite a few variations to bruschetta although at a glance the ingredients seem obvious. This easy version has homegrown organic tomatoes, homegrown organic basil, onion, hand-chopped garlic cloves, salt, pepper and olive oil. You really can’t go wrong. Unless you screw it up, then you’re just helpless.

Binge or Bail: The Dropped-Inseam Pant

The Men’s Spring 2014 and 2015 collections bring us a style that has already been adapted by women’s street wear in the form of the Harem and Palazzo pant. Airy, loose and free-flowing pant silhouettes are undoubtedly preferred by anyone who wishes to enjoy the rising temperatures while also sporting a more concealing option. The harem pant is nothing new, as it claims roots from Arabia and has been seen on MC Hammer and our favorite Disney rags-to-riches prince, Aladdin. (Jasmine, by the way, also wears a Harem-inspired pant with a sweetheart crop top most of the movie; she was ahead of her time).

Despite the lack of originality in actual style, the modifications made to this recently trendy pant are quite suiting for a wide variety of ensemble personalities. Let’s compare the highs and the lows, on which are bargain and on which to blow.


Binge: Rick Owens Drawstring Cropped Drop-Inseam Pants ($985)

Bail:  KC By Kill City Tapered Drawstring Cropped Pant ($69)

 The Rick Owens pant looks like luxury activewear, with the prominent drawstring and slightly faded wash while the Kill City pant provides a bit more functional freedom. Although the KC is a casual pant, it could be dressed up if you’re daring, making it a better contender for your hard-earned cash. I will say the Rick Owens pant looks more expensive, but because it limits itself due to its un-tailored structure, I say bail and go with the KC.

Binge: Michael Kors (not to be confused with Michael by Michael Kors) pleated wide-leg trouser ($$$)

Photo credit: courtesy of Michael Kors

Photo credit: courtesy of Michael Kors

Bail: Daniel Ellissa Double-Pleated Wide Leg Pant ($50-$25)

First off, let me say I think wide leg trousers on men are so cool and can look amazing if done right. The tight skinny jeans that give the illusion of malnourished toothpicks for legs was never something I found appealing on a professional over the age of 20. If you can pull these off, know these pants are more of an investment piece. They’re fairly classic and probably will fit better as the quality improves. While I may not opt for the incredibly pricey Michael Kors, I think the bail option may not please all. However, try to go up the ladder of cost before immediately swiping your card on the pricey brand.

Binge: LOT 78 Leather Jogger ($800)

Bail: GZMN Black on Black Faux Leather Drop Crotch Joggers ($60)

Let’s just cut to the chase – the bail option looks 30x better, and is incomparable in price. Problem solved.

Restaurant Rave: Smith and Mills

TriBeCa holds this hidden (literally) gem for those who prefer a quiet and uncommon ambiance. You may pass it once or twice due to no sign being present above it’s old wooden doors, but once you sink into the ivory cushions that take the place of typical chairs, you slip into a new world. The peaceful air at lunch hour made the experience relaxing and my tired mind welcomed the cozy yet elegant decor.

I ordered the HOUSE GRAVLAX TOAST (pictured below), which was quite small but delicate and delicious. The slight toughness of the brioche with the delectable creme fraiche was an inviting contrast, while the zesty capers and fresh dill added an organic touch.


While I have not visited Smith and Mills for dinner or drinks, they offer diners an intimate and exclusive lunch experience just moments away from the hyper bustle of Canal Street.